Pierce College Chancellor set to retire

After 45 years of teaching and leadership at Pierce College, including 15 years as a faculty member, 6 years as president of Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, and 17 years as chancellor/CEO of the Pierce College District, Dr. Michele Johnson announces her retirement effective December 31, 2022.  

“Dr. Johnson has committed her life and career to Pierce College,” said Board of Trustees Chair Brett Willis.  “She is a transparent and collaborative leader building internal and external partnerships with other institutions of higher education, K-12 districts, business and industry, and community-based organizations. Her strong leadership is a key reason Pierce has been selected twice by the prestigious Aspen Institute as a Top 10 finalist for their $1 million Excellence in Community College prize.”

In addition to Aspen’s recognition, highlights of Johnson’s tenure include Achieving the Dream’s prestigious national Leah Meyer Austin and Leader College of Distinction awards for supporting student success, the Military Times Best for Vets awards, doubling of graduation rates, expansion of state-of-the-art facilities on campuses at Fort Steilacoom and Puyallup, innovative programs across our diverse communities including Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and relentless pursuit of mission to eliminate areas of inequities and to build an anti-racist institution. 

“We owe her a huge debt of gratitude for her vision, her leadership and mentorship,” Willis said. “We will miss her but her legacy of excellence will live on.”

Johnson is a graduate of Tacoma’s Lincoln High School. She was recognized as a Woman of Influence by the Business Examiner in their first selection in 1999. She was named one of 20 people to watch in the new century by the Tacoma News Tribune on January 1, 2000, and CEO of the Pacific Region by the Association of Community College Trustees in 2016.

“Pierce College is an amazing place,” Dr. Johnson said. “It has been an honor to be part of the college, to work with a dedicated team of faculty, staff, and administrators, to serve our students, our community, and the larger community and technical college system. This has been my life’s work and a labor of love.”

Pierce College will conduct a national search for the next chancellor and CEO. The Board of Trustees will form a Chancellor Search Advisory Committee including faculty, staff, students and community members to support efforts to select a new chancellor who will join us in January 2023.